Top 10 Ways to Deal With Hunger
Tricks to turn down your appetite
By Elaine Magee, MPH, RD
1. Bulk up your meals. There's a lot of evidence that bulk -- that is, fiber -- reduces appetite. So turn up the volume with higher-fiber foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans. These foods also tend to have a high water content, which helps you feel full.
2. Cool off your appetite with soup. Have a bowl of broth or vegetable-based soup (hot or cold) for a first course, and you'll probably end up eating fewer total calories at that meal. Creamy or high-fat soups need not apply for this job -- stick to the low-cal, high-fiber choices like minestrone or vegetable-bean type soups.
3. Crunch your appetite away with a big salad. One study found that when people had a large (3 cups), low-calorie (100 calories) salad before lunch, they ate 12% fewer calories during the meal. When they had a smaller salad (1 1/2 cups and 50 calories), they ate 7% fewer calories overall. You can make the same salads used in the study: Toss romaine lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, celery, and cucumbers together, and top with fat-free or low-fat dressing. But beware the fatty salad! Eating a high-calorie salad, even a small one, can encourage us to eat more calories at the meal than if we ate no salad at all.
4. Stay on course. A little bit of variety in our meals is good and even healthful. But having several courses during a meal can lead you down the wrong path. Adding an extra course to your meal (unless it's a low-calorie salad or broth-type soup) usually increases the total calories you consume for that meal.
5. An orange or grapefruit a day helps keep appetite away. Research suggests that low-calorie plant foods that are rich in soluble fiber -- like oranges and grapefruit -- help us feel fuller faster and keep blood sugars steady. This can translate into better appetite control. Of the 20 most popular fruits and vegetables, oranges and grapefruits are highest in fiber!
6. Get milk (or other low-fat dairy foods). Increasing your intake of low-fat dairy foods is a great way to get more of two proteins that are thought to be appetite suppressors -- whey and casein. And drinking milk may be especially effective. A recent study found that whey -- the liquid part of milk -- was better at reducing appetite than casein.
7. Have some fat with your carbs -- but not too much! When we eat fat, a hormone called leptin is released from our fat cells. This is a good thing when we're talking about moderate amounts of fat. Studies have shown that a lack of leptin (due to a very low-fat diet) can trigger a voracious appetite. Obviously, we want to do the opposite of that. But that doesn't mean we should opt for a high-fat meal. Research has found a higher frequency of obesity among people who eat a high-fat diet than among those who eat a low-fat diet.
8. Enjoy some soy. Soybeans offer protein and fat along with carbohydrates. That alone would suggest that soybeans are more satisfying and more likely to keep our appetites in control than most plant foods. But a recent study in rats suggests that a particular component in soybeans has definite appetite-suppressing qualities.
9. Go nuts. Nuts help you feel satisfied because of their protein and fiber content. A handful of these vitamin- and mineral-rich nuggets will hold you over between meals. But keep that handful small: Nuts are high in fat, even though it is the healthful monounsaturated kind.
10. Slow down, you're eating too fast. It takes at least 20 minutes for your brain to get the message that your stomach is officially "comfortable" and that you should stop eating. If you eat slowly, the brain has a chance to catch up with the stomach, and you're less likely to overeat.
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